Double series, double discovery
We celebrate with this double series a double discovery. On the on hand, the frontwoman (yes, we talk about her as a rock band) of the French cinema, Valérie Massadian. On the other hand, one of the key names of the new German cinema movement, known as Berlin School: Valeska Grisebach.
Valérie Massadian comes from the world of photography, the reason why portrait and observation are so important on her films. In the first phase of her career, Massadian worked with slide photography and made exhibitions in Tokyo, Oporto or London and worked with great professionals as Nan Goldin. Her feature films came later and her exceptional debut: Nana (2011), best Debut in the Locarno Film Festival. In this review of her work we will have the opportunity to watch her two feature films, her short films and a cart blanche.
Valeska Grisebach studied Philosophy and German in Berlin, Munich and Viena. In 1993 began studying filmmaking in the Cinema Academy in Viena with Peter Patzak, Wolfgang Glück and Michael Haneke. Her graduation film Mein Stern, won the Critics Prize in the Toronto International Film Festival and The Great Prize in the Turin Film Festival. From that on, her career was named as one of the key cinematographic voices of Europe. The Focus will review her three feature films.
Both directors will come to present their films so it will be a great opportunity to know about their working processes.
“Maybe one day I’ll make a film in a city, but I have doubts about that, because it’s too ugly. Cars are ugly. Everything’s ugly. Nature is very important to me because it puts people back where they belong. There are no modern objects in my film, and that’s because they’re ugly, but also because instead of being tools, which is their function, they become the enslavers. I think it’s very healthy sometimes to just disconnect completely.
And nature is an extremely important character in my films. It’s not a sweet, comfortable, postcard-pretty thing. It takes people away. [My films] always start with a place. I shot Nana where my mother lives because I know the land really well. I know every tree, every cow. I wanted the same wilderness [in Milla], but with the ocean, with the sea. And so I traveled through the North Coast with my mother in a car, and I found this place.”
(Film Comment. ND/NF Interview: Valérie Massadian. Devika Girish. April 2 2018).
“It took a while until I realized that this is maybe the perfect setting, that the new location should be Eastern Europe for these German construction workers in another country. I was traveling to Romania and Bulgaria—then at some point, I decided it should be Bulgaria. I was really traveling, as we say in German, into the blue, so I didn’t know where I would end [up]. I just knew I was interested in these border regions because you have such a mixture of people and so much movement. First I traveled to the Serbian border, then to the Greek border, and fell immediately in love with the area. I think it was always connected with these personal moments—you meet somebody, you start to talk, maybe you try a scene. I was always traveling with a little camera. It’s a very special place, and for now, a little bit hidden. But now, because of the crisis in Greece, a lot of Greek farms are trying to put part of the farm in Bulgaria. So at the moment this area is a little wealthier than other border areas, for example, compared to the border to Serbia. So it’s a very vivid area, with a lot of potential, and I thought it was the right counterpart for the Germans.”
(Film Comment. Interview: Valeska Grisebach. Jordan Cronk. May 23rd 2017)